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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Bridgford Read-to-Eat Sandwiches > Test Report by Ray Estrella

Bridgford Ready to Eat Sandwiches
Test Series by Raymond Estrella
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - February 18, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - June 16, 2011

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 50
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 215 lb (97.50 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, plus many western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly UL, I try to be as near to it as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.


INITIAL REPORT

Product Information

Manufacturer: Bridgford Food Corporation
Web site: www.bridgford.com
Products: Ready to Eat Sandwiches
Year received: 2011
MSRP: N/A
Weight: see below
Weight of individual pouch (empty): 0.25 oz (7 g)
Average size: 4 x 3.25 in (10 x 8.25 cm)

Bacon in Cheese-Flavored Bread

Nutrition Facts
Mmmm, bacon...
Image courtesy Bridgford

Serving Size 3.1 oz (88g)
Servings Per Container
Calories 330
Calories from Fat 130
Total Fat 15g
Saturated Fat 5g
Trans Fat 2g
Cholesterol 20mg
Sodium 690mg
Total Carbohydrate 37g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Protein 12g

Vitamin A 2% Calcium 6% Iron 10%

Ingredients: Bread (Enriched Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Water, Cheddar Flavored Flakes [Hydrolyzed Vegetable Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Wheat Flour, Milk, Maltodextrin, Salt, Lactic Acid, Enzyme Modified Cheese (Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Natural Flavors, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Carbonate,
Disodium Phosphate, Annatto {for color}], Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Glycerol, Yeast, Salt, Sucrose Ester, Dough Conditioners [Wheat, Flour, Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides {DATEM}, Soy Oil, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Enzyme, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide {ADA}], Gum Arabic, Butter Flavor [Modified Food Starch, Maltodextrin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Soy Lecithin], Glucono-Delta- Lactone, Calcium Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Sorbic Acid), Bacon (Cured with Water, Salt, Hickory Smoke Flavor, Sugar, Dextrose,
Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite).

Cinnamon Bun

Nutrition Facts
Nice buns
Image courtesy Bridgford

Serving Size 3.5 oz (100g)
Servings Per Container 1
Calories 330
Calories from Fat 80
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 2g
Sodium 430mg
Total Carbohydrate 49g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 16g
Protein 6g

Vitamin C 15% Calcium 10% Iron 8%

Ingredients: Bread (Enriched Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Glycerol, Cinnamon Flakes [Sugar, Vegetable Oil {Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil}, Cinnamon, Soy Lecithin], Yeast, Sugar, Salt, Sucrose Ester, Dough Conditioners [Wheat Flour, Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides {DATEM}, Soy Oil, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Enzyme, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide {ADA}], Gum Arabic, Calcium Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Sorbic Acid, Butter Flavor [Modified Food Starch, Maltodextrin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Soy Lecithin], Food Color [FD&C Yellow #5 Alum Lake]), Cinnamon Filling (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Dextrose, Cinnamon, Corn Syrup, Glycerol, Starch, Vanilla Flavor [Natural and Artificial], Locust Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum).

Honey BBQ Beef

Nutrition Facts
Beef on the barbie
Image courtesy Bridgford

Serving Size 3.5 oz (100g)
Servings Per Container
Calories 290
Calories from Fat 80
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 2.5g
Trans Fat 2.0g
Cholesterol 20mg
Sodium 670mg
Total Carbohydrate 41g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 8g
Protein 11g

Vitamin A 4% Calcium 8% Iron 15%

Ingredients: Bread (Enriched Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Glycerol, Yeast, Salt, Sucrose Ester, Dough Conditioners [Wheat, Flour, Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides {DATEM}, Soy Oil, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Enzyme, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide {ADA}], Gum Arabic, Calcium Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Sorbic Acid), Barbecue Beef (Beef, Tomato Paste [Tomato Paste, Salt, Citric Acid], Brown Sugar, Mustard, Glycerol, Honey, Molasses, Spices and Flavorings, Beef Broth, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Rice Syrup, Vinegar Flavor [Sodium Diacetate, Citric Acid, Potassium Citrate, Glucono-Delta-Lactone], Worcestershire Sauce [Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Coloring, Sugar, Spices, Anchovies, Flavoring, Tamarind], Dried Onions, Smoke Flavoring, Sodium Phosphate).

Honey BBQ Chicken

Nutrition Facts
Who needs KFC?
Image courtesy Bridgford

Serving Size 3.5 oz (100g)
Servings Per Container 1
Calories 290
Calories from Fat 80
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 2.5g
Trans Fat 1.5g
Cholesterol 15mg
Sodium 680mg
Total Carbohydrate 41g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 8g
Protein 12g

Vitamin A 4% Calcium 8% Iron 8%

Ingredients: Bread (Enriched Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Glycerol, Yeast, Salt, Sucrose Ester, Dough Conditioners [Wheat, Flour, Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides {DATEM}, Soy Oil, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Enzyme, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide {ADA}], Gum Arabic, Calcium Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Sorbic Acid), Barbecue Chicken (Chicken, Tomato Paste [Tomato Paste, Salt, Citric Acid], Brown Sugar,
Mustard, Glycerol, Honey, Molasses, Spices and Flavorings, Chicken Broth, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Rice Syrup, Vinegar Flavor [Sodium Diacetate, Citric
Acid, Potassium Citrate, Glucono-Delta-Lactone], Worcestershire Sauce [Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Coloring, Sugar, Spices, Anchovies, Flavoring, Tamarind], Dried Onions, Smoke Flavoring, Sodium Phosphate).

Italian Style

Nutrition Facts
Mama mia
Image courtesy Bridgford

Serving Size 3.5 oz (100g)
Servings Per Container 1
Calories 320
Calories from Fat 120
Total Fat 14g
Saturated Fat 4.5g
Trans Fat 2.0g
Cholesterol 10mg
Sodium 730mg
Total Carbohydrate 39g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 3g
Protein 11g

Vitamin A 4% Calcium 8% Iron 10%

Ingredients: Bread (Enriched Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine
Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Glycerol, Yeast, Salt, Sucrose Ester, Dough Conditioners [Wheat Flour, Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides {DATEM}, Soy Oil, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Enzyme, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide {ADA}], Gum Arabic, Calcium Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Glucono-Delta-
Lactone, Sorbic Acid), Tomato Sauce (Tomato Paste [Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Citric Acid], Glycerol, Parmesan/Romano Cheese [Pasteurized Cow's Milk, Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Olive Oil, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Dried Onions, Spices, Salt), Marinated/Cooked Sausage (Italian Sausage [Pork, Salt, Water, Dextrose, Spices and Flavorings, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Nitrite],
Rice Syrup, Glycerol, Water, Salt, Spices), Pepperoni (Pork, Beef, Salt, Water, Dextrose, Paprika, Spices and Flavorings, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Oleoresin of Paprika, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite, BHA, BHT), Mozzarella Cheese Powder (Mozzarella Cheese [Pasteurized Milk, Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Disodium Phosphate). Contains 21% Meat

Pepperoni

Nutrition Facts
Pepperoni stick, it
Image courtesy Bridgford

Serving Size 2.5 oz (70g)
Servings Per Container 1
Calories 270
Calories from Fat 130
Total Fat 15g
Saturated Fat 5g
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 20mg
Sodium 580mg
Total Carbohydrate 25g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Protein 10g

Vitamin A 4% Calcium 4% Iron 8%

Ingredients: Bread (Enriched Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Glycerol, Yeast, Salt, Sucrose Ester, Dough Conditioners [Wheat, Flour, Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides {DATEM}, Soy Oil, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Enzyme, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide {ADA}], Gum Arabic, Calcium Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Glucono-Delta-Lactone, Sorbic Acid), Pepperoni (Pork, Beef, Salt, Water, Dextrose, Paprika, Spices and Flavorings, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Oleoresin of Paprika, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite, BHA, BHT).

Italian Soy Marinara

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 3.5 oz (100g)
Servings Per Container 1
Calories 310
Calories from Fat 90
Total Fat 10g
Saturated Fat 2.5g
Trans Fat 1.5g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 820mg
Total Carbohydrate 36g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 3g
Protein 11g

Vitamin A 6% Vitamin C 20% Calcium 10% Iron 10%

Ingredients: Bread (Enriched Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine
Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Glycerol, Yeast, Salt, Sucrose Ester, Dough Conditioners [Wheat Flour, Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides {DATEM}, Soy Oil, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Enzyme, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide {ADA}], Gum Arabic, Calcium Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Glucono-Delta-
Lactone, Sorbic Acid), Italian Soy Marinara, (Tomato Sauce [Tomato Paste, Tomatoes, Salt, Citric Acid], Soy Protein Concentrate, Water, Rice Syrup, Glycerol, Olive Oil, Seasonings and Flavorings, Mozzarella Cheese Powder [Mozzarella Cheese, Disodium Phosphate], Parmesan and Romano Cheese, Salt, Sugar, Citric Acid, Dextrose, Paprika Extract, Monosodium Glutamate, Paprika.

Product Description

The Bridgford Ready to Eat Sandwiches (hereafter called the sandwiches) are shelf-stable sandwiches. Shelf stable means that they need no refrigeration to keep from spoiling short-term. These sandwiches are said to have a 3-year shelf-life if maintained at 80 F (27 C) or less, and can be stored at 100 F (38 C) for six months.

The sandwiches are packed in a tan plastic pouch that is quite familiar to me as the standard packaging of MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) used by the US military. I used to keep an assorted case of MRE's in my garage as emergency rations in case of flood or earthquake. Indeed Bridgford developed these for the military and they are currently incorporated into the US Military "First Strike Ration" MRE.The nutritional information is printed on each pouch.

While the sandwiches are designed to be eaten as-is right from the pouch, they may also be heated to make them more enjoyable. Heating can be done with a MRE/Flameless Heater, toaster oven, or microwave, but that is beyond the realm of the backpacking situations I plan to be in. They can also be heated by immersing in boiling water for 6 minutes. Maybe I will try that, but most likely not as the appeal to me of this product is the speed and lack of preparation hassle.

The sandwiches come four to a box. The expiration date is printed on the top of each box. The exception was the Italian Soy Marinara which came loose and had a nutritional label with expiration adhered to the plastic pouch. All of my sandwiches are good to between May and November of 2013. I take it that means mine were produced in 2010. That gives me just over two years of shelf life for most of them. Oh yeah, this is a three month test. ;-)

The common thing to all the sandwiches is the bread. It is a flatbread for all but the Pepperoni which has what looks like a roll. The flatbread is stuffed with the different fillings.

Since I received a total of 56 sandwiches (!) I decided I could afford to try one at home. I microwaved one of the Italian Soy Marinara for 25 seconds. Even before heating it the bread was soft to the touch. After heating the sandwich smelled good. The taste was pretty good too. For a food meant to satisfy a wide range of people it had quite a bit of spice, which I like. (I am used to backpacking foods being pretty bland at times.) The bread is very good. Here is a picture of the sandwich; it should be close to actual size.

Italian Soy Marinara


I found that they put an oxygen absorber pack inside the plastic pouch. It was stuck to the bottom of the sandwich and I did not notice it until I cut the sandwich in half. Fortunately I did not cut through the pack and now know to look for it before I start eating.

Well that really is all I can say about them at this time. I am leaving tomorrow on a backpacking trip and shall start using them right away. Please come back in a few months to see how the Ready to Eat Sandwiches worked for me.


LONG-TERM REPORT

Field Conditions

I have taken the Ready to Eat Sandwiches on three multi-day winter backpacking trips in Minnesota. Two were overnighters on the North Country Trail in, and just west of, Chippewa National Forest. Temps ranged from 10 to 30 F (-12 to -1 C).

A three-day trip in Voyageurs National Park saw temps from -31 to 7 F (-35 to -14 C).

Much warmer weather was found on three three-day backpacking trips spread over a two week period in late spring in California. All of the hikes were on and around the Pacific Crest Trail in the southern Sierra Nevada. Temps ranged from 19 to 75 F (-7 to 24 C).

I also brought them on every dayhike since receiving the sandwiches. This is probably about four hikes, all in Minnesota, all on snow.

Observations

I will break my report into two sections. The first will discuss the viability of the Bridgford Ready to Eat Sandwiches for backpacking, and the second part will be my personal take on the individual flavors.

Part one: How do they do?

Testing the Bridgford Ready to Eat Sandwiches as a backpacking staple has been interesting due to the fact that one; I spent my first full-time winter in northern Minnesota, and two; it was a record setting winter for low temperatures and snow-fall.

Just keeping the sandwiches from freezing was half the challenge this past winter. I planned to use the Ready to Eat Sandwiches for each lunch and breakfast on the trail. I ended up employing the following strategy for all my trips.

The morning I left for the trailhead I would pour boiling water in a Platy Bottle and place it into an insulated holder. I slid that day's sandwich inside the cover too and placed the whole works into my hydration compartment of my pack (if wearing one) or burying it in the middle of my gear inside my sled. At lunch time the water and sandwich would just be warm.

In camp I would place the next morning's breakfast along with the next day's lunch in my sleeping bag. My body heat would keep the sandwiches from freezing during the night. I would eat one breakfast sandwich (usually the bacon) while still in my bag and place the other (cinnamon bun) along with my lunch sandwich inside the inner pocket of my fleece jacket. This kept the sandwiches against my body while hiking. The result was almost body-temp food for when I stopped to eat. This actually worked quite well. Here is a shot of one worn-out Ray having lunch on day two on Cruiser Trail in Voyageurs National Park. This was one of the warm spots, hitting about 5 F (-14 C) right then. (As you can see I decided to bulk up for the winter… ;-)

Should have just hibernated...


Bridgford does say the sandwiches may be heated by immersing in boiling water for 6 minutes. I gave this a try by rolling the package and sliding a sandwich inside of my Trail Designs Keg-F pot then pouring water in and placing it in the Caldera Cone over the alcohol stove. While it did work I decided that the hassle was not worth the slight extra warmth as it was so cold where I was that by the time I got it out, opened and ready to eat it had cooled considerably.

It was a lot easier eating them on my trips in California. For these trips we were trying for fast-and-light in an area that has scarce (or no) water sources, so did not take a stove. We figured why carry water to add to freeze-dried food. The Ready to Eat Sandwiches were perfect for this application and I took one for each lunch and two for each dinner.

The ease of use is hard to beat. Open, eat. That's it.

Part two: Are they good to chew?

I found the Ready to Eat Sandwiches to be pretty filling. I often forced myself to eat a second sandwich as I knew I needed the calories, but I learned to just split them up by an hour or so. I never ate two at mid-day choosing to supplement a sandwich with a Lara Bar or such if I needed more. Here are my takes on each flavor.

Bacon in Cheese-Flavored Bread

This one became an instant favorite for breakfast in frigid Minnesota. The fact that it has the highest amount of calories from fat of all the sandwiches makes it perfect for starting the day off with calories that will burn for a long time. (The reason Sherpas put a pat of Yak butter in their morning tea.) The bacon is thick, meaty and flavorful.

Cinnamon Bun

The Cinnamon Bun makes a great breakfast or mid-morning snack. I would have liked twice as many of these yummy sandwiches. I did keep two of them aside for my kids to eat on one of our trips this summer.

Honey BBQ Beef

I really like the flavor of this one. The BBQ sauce is sweet and tangy and the beef is pretty good. Number one for dinner in my opinion.

Honey BBQ Chicken

Coming in a close second for dinner or lunch was the BBQ Chicken. The meat is actually recognizable as chicken, unlike the nuggets my kids like at the fast food joints… My daughter requested me to save one for her if I could not eat all the sandwiches before the test ended. (Which I could not. I have probably 20 assorted left right now.)

Italian Style

At first I liked these but leaned away from them by the end of the test. The texture varies a lot, most likely from the mix of meats but I came to find it disconcerting. I would not score them bad at all, just that it is not the first (or fourth) I would grab.

Pepperoni

I ended up liking this one just because of how good the pepperoni is. It may be the meatiest, least fatty pepperoni I have eaten. Because of these sandwiches I went looking for Bridgford's grocery store version pepperoni as I buy a lot of it because it is my son's favorite meat after chicken. (Steak? No way!)

Italian Soy Marinara

The first flavor I tried quickly became the one I liked the least. After getting used to the texture and chewiness of the other flavors the smooth Soy Marinara came up short. I do not think I would ever buy this flavor after trying the others but as it is the only non-meat offering (besides the cinnamon bun) I could see where it may have appeal in the market.

Summary

After the past few months I came away feeling that the Bridgford Ready to Eat Sandwiches work well for backpacking, especially when I don't want to bring a stove. I don't ever see myself eating them in the quantity I had to during the test but they make a great addition to other ready to eat menu items to mix it up a bit.

They are also great to just keep in my daypack for quick spur-of-the-moment trips. While one can be filling I do find that two makes more of a full meal for my caloric intake needs.

On a personal note I would not mind having a bunch just sitting around for use in emergency situations like after floods or tornadoes which we have had a lot of this year too. This would make them dual use to compliment the backpacking.

I would like to thank Bridgford and BackpackGearTest.org for feeding me all winter and spring, I mean for allowing me to test these useful and tasty sandwiches.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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